The year of the pig was off to a good start in Hong Kong at the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Reform Conference organised by the Hong Kong Department of Justice and the Asian Academy of International Law on 13 February 2019. Like the fabled pig, ISDS reform has been slow in coming, and the aim…

For many years, arbitration has been the de facto vehicle of choice for the resolution of investor-state disputes. However, despite the wholesale and widespread adoption of mediation in every sort of dispute, mediation is used rarely in investor-state disputes (Systra v. Philippines is one example). As of this writing, only 11 (1.3% of total ICSID…

Introduction In their Fourth Turning Theory, Howe and Strauss put forward the thesis that every cycle in Anglo-American history had concluded with a great crisis, a fourth turning, from which a new order with a new set of beliefs had emerged. According to their predictions, a new crisis should have started sometime around 2005 and…

On 22 November 2018, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation hosted a High Level Event on the Reform of Investment Protection. Distinguished panellists from arbitral institutions, international organisations, academia, civil society, arbitration users and legal practitioners presented diverse views on the need for reform of the system of investor-State dispute…

On 7 February 2019, Young ITA Talks Mexico conference addressing investor-state dispute settlement (“ISDS”) in Latin America was organized at Greenberg Traurig S.C.’s Mexico City office. The panellists, including leading practitioners and government officials, discussed the development of and approaches to international arbitration and ISDS in Latin America, and how these are influenced by divided…

The CERSA (CNRS- University Paris II Panthéon-Assas) organized its third event in a series of seminars on selected topics in international investment law and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) (for the report of the first seminar, see here). The seminar on Topical issues in ISDS: EU Investment Law was held in Paris on 7 February 2019…

At the heart of the debate surrounding Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Reform is UNCITRAL Working Group (WG) III.  Until two years ago, WG III was dedicated to discussing issues surrounding online dispute resolution.  But in 2017, in response to several significant awards against states in investment arbitration and corresponding public outcry, the WG III was…

On 22 November 2018, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation hosted a High Level Event on the Reform of Investment Protection. Distinguished panellists from arbitral institutions, international organisations, academia, civil society, arbitration users and legal practitioners presented diverse views on the need for reform of the system of investor-State dispute…

Last year was a busy one for arbitration practitioners in Australia and New Zealand, and 2019 looks set to be even busier. In 2018, both countries initiated a range of arbitration reforms, initiatives and negotiations which give insights into the likely general direction of travel for both countries in the coming year. This post focusses…

In 2013, China proposed to jointly build the “Belt and Road” Initiative. While the international investment agreements (“IIAs”) proposed to be concluded with China and its counterparties along the “Belt and Road” will provide a robust source of potential investor protections, they must be easily understood among investors, states, and international tribunals. IIAs, as the…

In a marked departure from its usual closed-doors policy, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court”) recently held public deliberations in two separate appeal proceedings concerning foreign investment arbitrations. In both cases, a public deliberation by all five judges of the first civil chamber was necessitated due to the lack of unanimity among the…

While the jury is still out on whether winter is coming or has already arrived regarding ISDS and investment treaties, I would rather turn to agriculture and use the metaphor of sowing the seeds and harvesting. Since July 2010, when the European Commission published its very first Communication on ISDS and investment treaties, it has…

Last month, Seoul was once again brimming with eminent arbitrators and arbitration counsel, and leading alternate dispute resolution practitioners from around the world who had come to attend the Seoul ADR Festival 2018 – a much sought-after yearly event which has grown remarkably in scope and significance since it was first organized in 2015. The…

Introduction The assessment of human rights within an investment arbitration framework, typical for the investor-state dispute resolution (ISDS) mechanism, is one of the topics which has gained significant momentum in the past years, and has led even to the establishment of a Working Group on International Arbitration of Business and Human Rights. Arbitral tribunals often…

The 8th edition of the Herbert Smith Freehills – SMU Asian Arbitration Lecture, jointly organised with the Centre for Cross-border Commercial Law at the Singapore Management University, took place on 18 October 2018. The distinguished event, graced by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, hosted a panel comprising: Sir Christopher Greenwood, DAG Lionel Yee, Judith Gill QC…

Introduction: The Pro-State Orientation of the USMCA Chapter 14 of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) presents a model of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) that fundamentally realigns the balance between investors and states in favor of the latter. This realignment consists in the USMCA’s structure and specific provisions. Structurally, the USMCA eliminates ISDS between Canadian investors…

Zooming out from the excellent analysis of Robert Landicho and Andrea Cohen on the specific changes that the USMCA as the intended successor of NAFTA will bring for investment protection and ISDS, this contribution will place the USMCA in a global perspective, in particular regarding the efforts of the EU to replace ISDS system with…

President Trump’s October 1, 2018 announcement that the United States, Canada, and Mexico have reached an agreement to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) marks a veritable sea change in investor-state dispute settlement in the region. Previous and prospective users of NAFTA’s dispute resolution procedures will immediately note that this new free-trade…

Investor-state tribunals frequently face allegations of economic crimes, especially in jurisdictions with a weak rule of law. For instance, the largest ever investor–State award of $50 billion in Yukos v Russian Federation, primarily concerned a criminal investigation of alleged tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement by what was then the largest Russian oil company. The tribunal…

Recent events such as the NAFTA re-negotiations have drawn leading newspapers around the world to turn their attention to ISDS tribunals. Often in an effort to make their stories sensational, they speak of “obscure tribunals,” “secret trade court,” and “justice behind closed doors,” most of the time giving it an unfair and biased image. In…

Mexico held its general elections (including presidential election) on July 1st. The Government of the country has shifted from a center-right president, Enrique Peña Nieto from the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party), to the favorite candidate for the recent elections, the left-wing politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“AMLO”). AMLO, a member of the Movimiento…

Based on the panel discussion moderated at the 30th Annual ITA Workshop and Annual Meeting, with panelists Lorraine de Germiny, Robert Landicho, and Laura Sinisterra.   While there are more than 3,000 international investment agreements (IIAs), the majority of them fail to provide guidance as to how issues of human rights and environmental protection should…

Like a chronicle of a death foretold, the  systematic denunciation by Ecuador of the Bilateral Investment Treaties (“BITs”) signed with various states formally began in 2009.  Although, the origin of the complaints goes back to 2008, when the current Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador was enacted and specifically forbid the execution of any international…

On 26 May 2018, the Ninth Investment Arbitration Forum took place at the Juridicum of the University of Vienna jointly organized by Prof. Irmgard Marboe of the University of Vienna, Adriana San Román and Herfried Wöss of Wöss & Partners and ICC Austria. The topic of this year’s forum was “Valuation of Damages in Changing…